In short

Saint Agatha of Catania or Agatha of Sicily is a Christian saint, virgin and martyr, who died in 251. She is commemorated on February 5.


Saint Agatha, martyr of Sicily

Known from a hagiographic account of the 5th century from late traditions, his legendary life was taken up by Jacques de Voragine in La Legend golden.

Born in the 3rd century in Catania in Sicily, into a noble family, Agathe was of great beauty and honored God with fervor and had thus dedicated her virginity to him. Quintian, proconsul of Sicily but a man of low extraction, wanted above all to marry her, thinking that he could thus gain respect but also enjoy the beauty and fortune of such a wife.

Agathe having refused his advances, Quintien sent her to a brothel run by a certain Aphrodisia who he charged with making him accept this marriage and renounce his God. The landlady having failed, Quintien had Agathe thrown in prison and tortured her. Among the tortures she endured, her breasts were torn out with pliers, but the apostle Peter appeared to her in prison and healed her of her wounds. Further torture eventually killed him, and his death was accompanied by an earthquake that shook the entire city.

A year after his death, Etna erupted, pouring a flood of lava towards Catania. According to legend, the inhabitants seized the veil which covered Agatha's tomb and placed it in front of the fire which immediately stopped, thus sparing the city.

Since then, its name has been invoked to protect against earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or fires.

The cult of Saint Agatha quickly spread beyond Sicily: in 470, the Arians lui dédièrent une petite église à Rome, Sainte-Agathe-des-Goths, que le pape Grégoire le Grand donna aux catholiques.

Agathe apparaît après Félicité et Perpétue, et avant Lucie, Agnès, Cécile et Anastasie parmi les sept saintes mentionnées dans le canon de la messe catholique romaine.

She is one of the three great saints of Sicily, she in Catania, Lucia in Syracuse and Rosalie in Palermo.

Saint Agatha is the patroness of nannies, jewelers, bell founders, of the cities of Catania and Palermo, as well as of the island of Malta. His relics, which would have been transferred to Constantinople in 1050, have now rested since 1126 in the chapel dedicated to him in the Catania cathedral dedicated to him.

A popular breast-shaped pastry is made on the saint's feast day, the "Minne di Sant'Agata" or "Minuzzo", which is served in pairs in Sicily in the city of Catania. These are small domes of dough filled with fresh cheese, candied fruit and pistachio. Covered with white icing and topped with a candied cherry, they symbolize the martyr's breast.

In France, it is by the brioche that we will designate the magret d'Agathe de Sicile, through the cake of Saint-Genix, or cake of Labully, which was invented in 1880 by the pastry chef Pierre Labully in the village from Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers in Savoie. The appearance in this region of the cult of Saint Agatha as well as the tradition of brioches in the shape of cut breasts dates back to the annexation of Sicily to the Duchy of Savoy in 1713.

The Feast of Saint Agatha, which takes place every year from February 3 to 5, is the most important religious festival in Catania. The bust of the saint which houses her relics is installed on a monumental reliquary float, the “fercolo”, which is carried in procession through the city. Even the mafiosi of Catania force the reliquary to stop under the balcony of their house.

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Today, Catholics commemorate Saint Agatha. Martyr of Sicily, she was tortured because of her beauty and her devotion to God. Her breasts were torn off and upon her death disasters befell Sicily. Pastries in the shape of breasts are a reminder of her suffering. #mythology #myth #legend #calendar #5February #sainteagathe #agathe #sicily #catane